July 3, 2012 > City employees give back to community
City employees give back to community
Submitted By Joanne Burkman
Hayward's bargaining groups have taken a significant regional leadership role in achieving major and on-going healthcare and pension reform. Led by the Mayor and City Council, all employees are making personal sacrifices to save jobs and preserve services for the Hayward community by foregoing or absorbing over $20 million in contractually obligated wage and benefit costs during the next two years.
After over six months of collaborative discussions, the City reached agreements with all bargaining units that resulted in substantial changes to current benefit offerings. Not only are all groups, including the Mayor and Council and the City's executive team, continuing to give up cost of living adjustments, they are increasing what they pay for their healthcare and increasing their contributions towards retirement benefits. The end result is a decrease in take home pay, a reduction in overall costs to Hayward taxpayers, and protection of service levels to the community, while still preserving employee benefit levels.
A very slow recovery from the national economic recession continues to impact City revenue growth, while costs for employee healthcare, retirement, and salaries continue to increase. The City is a service-based organization, which means employee salaries and benefits comprise approximately 80% of the City's budget, making a reduction in personnel costs essential to avoiding drastic expenditure cuts that would have included layoffs and substantial service reductions to the Hayward community.
Facing a projected General Fund budget shortfall of $14.9 million in FY 2013 that would have grown to $19.4 million in FY 2014, the City's negotiating team started work in October 2011 with a message to its bargaining groups that the City could not close the overwhelming budget gap without recurring, structural changes to employee compensation packages; and this could not be accomplished without everyone's engaged and committed participation.
Hayward enjoys a history of strong relationships with its labor organizations; and the City Council and City leadership team stress the importance of a strong and continuing partnership with bargaining groups that is built on open communication and transparency. Throughout this process, the negotiating team and labor leadership shared information and actively listened to each other.
Fran David, Hayward City Manager, applauded City employees and the leadership of Council during these challenging economic times: "City employees have made impressive and extremely difficult contributions toward reducing wage and benefits costs, allowing us to significantly reduce the structural budget gap for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. The key to Hayward's success is its solid labor-management partnerships, thoughtful and engaged elected leadership, transparency at all levels, and more importantly, employees that genuinely care for one another and the community they serve."
The City organization will continue to work collaboratively to close any remaining structural budget gaps, with a focus on preserving service levels to the community and maintaining employee compensation and benefit levels.